There are many Renaissance festivals and faires throughout the US but we’ll be strictly discussing the Pennsylvania Faire in this post because, well, the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire is simply one of the coolest (for more reasons than just my favoritism).
Tudor-England is a part of history which has always interested me. The interest was only fueled by the HBO show The Tudors and I dove into a small obsession of reading as much Tudor-inspired fiction as I could. Enter the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire which was an hour and a half away from my house and a land of wonderment I had always wanted to visit. There is a wonderful Renaissance Faire in New York which I had never had the opportunity to go to and a very large one in Maryland — which I still have yet to visit — but the Pennsylvania was my first and only and even while I moved to Virginia and the Faire was much further away I still made the trek up to the Shire to attend the faire.
The PA Ren Faire is wonderful for multiple reasons but I’ll try to cover the reasons that first pop into mind.
1) Every weekend is a themed weekend. Running from August through October, you certainly have plenty of time to go to the PA Ren Faire. I’ve visited during various weekends (Children’s Fantasy Weekend, Wine Festival, Oktoberfest) and they’re all fun. There are more weekends you can go that may grab your interest so be sure to look at the calendar of events on the website.
2) The Shire is a permanent location. No tents or temporary buildings here: the buildings of the Shire are permanent and cute — right down to the food vendors who have their very own little buildings that are made to match the village! The food options may not be typical Tudor-era grub (Pizza, etc) but you still are able to feast on the Ren Faire specialty of very large turkey legs.
3) Worried that it may rain on your trip and you’ll miss the fun? The first time I went to the PA Ren Faire it was like monsoon season. The faire opened and the actors dealt with the nasty weather like champs but it persisted and the faire had to close early. Tickets are a bit more expensive than, say, a movie ticket but no worries – I was able to walk away with a ticket for another weekend (my choice) to enjoy the faire in the future since that day had been rained out.
4) Fun for all ages. There are always different shows being played varying in maturity levels (some are downright funny — for adults), faire rides and games (you can pair your kids up against your spouse and watch them attack, it’s kind of funny) and events where you can play along with the different actors at the faire (such as the peasant dance and the chess match!)
5) Possibly the largest jousting field outside of Europe, or so Wikipedia says, but whether or not that is true the jousting field is pretty big and the end of day joust is by far AWESOME and full of fake blood and explosions.
It’s easy to lose yourself in the Pennsylvania Ren Faire. Once you walk through the gates you can leave yourself behind and adopt a new character and be someone else. The Renaissance Faire is a way for adults to continue being kids and play make-believe. You can go in your regular clothing or dressed up, it’s your choice.
- You’ll likely be parked in a field, in fact, I can’t think of any parking where it isn’t a field. The fields are pretty flat but just beware if you have a car that you’re afraid of getting mud or grass on (if it were rainy)
- There be booze at this faire! Bring your ID if you want to drink and have a great time with some delicious mead, wine or beer served in speciality glasses or cups at various booths or the pirate ship.
- It’s a large location and has quite a bit of hills. Be prepared to feel the burn in your thighs after walking around all day.
- You can see a lot and many of the shows are repeated through the day so grab a map when you get to the faire and make your plan of attack for where to be throughout the day. I always try to make it to the peasant dance, chess match, last jousting tournament, and the closing of the faire for the day.
- Bring your money: while a lot of booths are accepting Lady Visa and Master Card there may be a minimum charge and it’s also very easy to spend a lot of money at the faire. So if you’re under a budget, like I usually am when I go, stick to cash so you know how much you’re spending.
- Dress up! In a Halloween costume or not, you can dress up for faire and be a kid again. Some people will come in street clothes while others will be in full on garb of varying degrees (from a cheaper costume to something that costs a pretty penny). It’s all for fun!
- Try the pickles on a stick. Just do it. They are wonderful.